Black Fly Weekend Special

The black flies are here and buzzing. Sounds like an excellent excuse to hang out in the kitchen and cook up something amazing. On top of the flies, rain is in the forecast. So, another good reason to spend some quality cooking time.

Why not invite some friends over to share all that great food? Here are a few delicious ideas for your dinner.

Kick things off with a tasty crostini and a glass of prosecco. Rumor has it the first asparagus are in. if you can find some, try my Asparagus Crostini with Sun-dried Tomato Pesto & Goat Cheese . Otherwise, Artichoke Crostini sounds pretty good.

Now then, what to have for dinner? If rain is really in the forecast, then a cozy chowder sounds good. My Lobster-Corn Chowder is really wonderfully. For a taste of the Mediterranean, go for my Seafood Stew. Unless you have a hankering for pasta; then it’s time for my Lemon Pasta & Shrimp with Olives & Capers . Add a nice salad, maybe my Radicchio, Fennel, and Arugula Salad or Rainbow Salad with Black Olive Vinaigrette .

Next, a deliciously sweet and tart dessert to finish dinner. Rhubarb is in season so bake a tasty Crumb Cake or Crisp.

Have a good (if slightly soggy weekend) and bon appétit!

What are you cooking this weekend? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going

Want more? Click here for more seasonal menus! For a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog Click Here!

© Susan W. Nye, 2015

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Celebrate Mom’s Day Weekend Special

Mom_SusieIt’s Mother’s Day this weekend. How will you make her day special? A girls’ day out at the spa? A fabulous hike on her favorite path? Shop ‘til you drop at the mall? A long lazy lunch, brunch or dinner? Some of the above? All of the above? Or something else entirely?

Here are a few delicious ideas the weekend, starting with brunch or lunch. For a new and different take on the classic pancake, try my Tostadas with Avocado Crema & Black Bean Salsa. If your mom loves caviar and/or smoked salmon, then you will want to try my Savory Blinis or Latkes with a dab of sour cream, a sliver of smoked salmon and a bit of caviar.Mom_Brenda_Susie

Then again, maybe brunch with mom demands Quiche or some variation of a cheese and egg pie. Perhaps you’ll cook up my Spinach Ricotta Pie, Tarte à l’Oignon (Onion Tart) or Asparagus & Goat Cheese Tart.

For something sweet and creamy, give my Honeyed Apricots with Creamy Yogurt, Panna Cotta with Strawberries or Strawberry-Rhubarb Soup.

And for dessert, I love Lemon Scones. Serve them plain or add your favorite jam and clotted cream. Perhaps you’ll let them eat cake, Blueberry Crumb Cake. It is delicious. Maybe you’ll try my Apple Muffins. After all, a muffin is just a cupcake without frosting.mom_susie_70s - 02

Maybe you are more the dinner type. How about a spicy, south of the border feast. Start with tasty Tostadas with Avocado Crema & Black Bean Salsa or Grilled Corn, Black Bean & Cheese Quesadillas with Fresh Tomato Salsa.

When you are ready to sit at the table, toss up a Caesar Salad with Parmesan Croutons. After all, legend has it that this go-to salad was invented Tijuana in the early 1920’s.

mom_susie_CA_01Grilled Rib Eye or Grilled Swordfish with Chimichurri. maybe you prefer your Grilled Swordfish with Tequila-Lime Butter. Be sure to round out your cookout with some Grilled Balsamic Vegetables.

If you are not ready to break out the grill and want something cozy, try my Pork Mole and Quinoa with Sweet Potato and Spinach.

Top off your dinner with something sweet. Maybe you’ll try my New Hampshire Mud Pie or Caramel Sundaes with Sweet & Salty Pecans. It’s too early for local berries but strawberries are on special in my local supermarket. Strawberry Shortcakes with Cardamom Cream might be a good idea. But if your mom is a chocoholic, then you must try by Double Trouble Chocolate-Orange Cupcakes.

Happy day to you and your mom! Bon appétit!

How will you celebrate Mother’s Day? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going

Want more? Click here for more seasonal menus! For a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog Click Here!

© Susan W. Nye, 2015

A Winter Survival Guide & Savory Galette with Spinach, Mushrooms & Manchego

If there’s one thing New Hampshire is good at; it’s winter.
Elkins_Beach_Winter_01I swear I almost ended up in Oz the other day. Walking by the beach at Elkins, the wind wasn’t just fierce. It was ferocious. After an unseasonably mild December, January is showing no mercy. Here are a few tips to make it through New Hampshire’s cold days and colder nights:

Dress like an onion. Inside or out, dress in layers. It’s winter so it’s okay to wear a couple of sweaters as well as a turtleneck and flannel shirt. Don’t forget the long johns or tights and wooly socks; you need to keep your bottom half warm too.

Wear a great hat. Your mom always warned that you lose something like ninety percent of your body heat through your head. She was only partially right. You lose body heat through any exposed parts so wearing a hat won’t keep you warm if you go out in shorts and a t-shirt. But, assuming you have no objection to bundling up, don’t forget your hat and gloves. Of course, any old hat will do but a great hat will make you the envy of the neighborhood.

Buy a heated mattress pad and top it with a fluffy duvet. I love, love, love my heated mattress pad. Turn it on a good ten to fifteen minutes before you hop in the sack. My oh my, you will immediately fall into a warm and cozy sleep.

Force bulbs or get a flowering plant. The trees are bare and the garden is under a foot of snow but you can still enjoy a few blooms. Paperwhites are my favorite but a Christmas cactus is fun. It looks a lot like something Dr. Seuss dreamed up. Hot or cold, a bit of humor is definitely a good thing.

Snuggle. Underneath that fluffy duvet, in front of the fire, on the chairlift … the possibilities are endless.

Stay active and get your heart pumping. If you can stand it, spend at least a little time each day outdoors. The fresh air will do you good. Try snowshoes or cross country skis, you won’t be cold for long if you are climbing up a hill.

Start a winter project. Finish it too. Do you have box after box of photographs that need sorting? Perhaps the guest room is long overdue for a new coat of paint. Or what about that story you keep promising to write? Whatever it is, tackle it now and keep at it until it’s done. You’ll be glad you did.

Enjoy the sun. Park a comfortable chair or a little work table in front of your sunniest window. Settle down for a good read or knit that great hat. It will be easier to sort through that mountain of photographs if you soaking up some sunshine.

Resist the urge to hibernate. It’s a good time to connect with old friends. Invite them to dinner or go snowshoeing together and then warm up with a nice cup of tea and a long chat. Start a movie club and make a point of seeing every one of this year’s Oscar nominated films. Make new friends by volunteering for a worthy cause or attending a workshop to kick-start that story that needs writing.

Stay warm and bon appétit!

Savory Galette with Spinach, Mushrooms & Manchego
Galette_Spinach_Mushrooms_Manchego_03A galette is a rustic tart. It can be sweet or savory, round or rectangular. Make a round one and cut in wedges for a cozy brunch or lunch. Roll out a rectangular galette and serve little squares with a glass of wine before dinner. Enjoy!
Serves 6-8

Olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
8 ounces mushrooms, trimmed and sliced
8 ounces frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
About 2-3 ounces (about 1 1/2 cups) shredded Manchego cheese

Heat a little olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, season with thyme, salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent. Add the garlic and, stirring frequently, cook for 2-3 minutes more. Remove from the pan and reserve.

Raise the heat to medium-high and add a little more oil to the skillet. Add the mushrooms and sauté until lightly browned. Cool to room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and place a rack in the middle of the oven. Line a baking sheet with a silicon mat or parchment paper.

Roll out the galette pastry dough on a lightly floured work surface into a 11-12 inch round or 10×12-inch rectangle. Carefully transfer the pastry to the baking sheet. Leaving a 2-inch border, sprinkle about half of the Manchego cheese on the rolled-out dough. Spread the spinach, mushrooms and onion on top of the cheese and sprinkle with the remaining Manchego. Fold the edges of the dough up and over the filling, pleating the dough as necessary.

Bake the galette at 375 degrees until the filling is piping hot and the crust is nicely browned, about 30 minutes. Cool on the baking sheet for 5-10 minutes before cutting into wedges or squares and serving.

Savory Pastry Dough
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
7 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small pieces
2 tablespoons sour cream
3 or more tablespoons ice water

Pulse the flour, thyme, salt and pepper in a food processor to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal.

Put the sour cream in a small bowl and whisk in 3 tablespoons ice water. Gradually add the sour cream mixture to the flour mixture and pulse until the dough comes together in a ball. If necessary, add more ice water.

Pat the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic or parchment paper and refrigerate for 1 hour.

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One Year Ago – Mac & Cheese with Roasted Broccoli & Sun-dried Tomatoes
Two Years Ago – Red Bean Chili with Pork & Butternut Squash
Three Years Ago – Piri Piri Prawns
Four Years Ago – French Lentil Soup
Five Years Ago – Spicy Chicken (or Turkey) Noodle Soup
Six Years Ago – My Favorite Chili
Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

How do you survive winter? Feel free to share – let’s get a conversation going.

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2015

Weber Knock-Off & Grilled Swordfish with Olive & Caper Salsa

grillSummer solstice, the longest day has come and gone. Fourth of July has been and done. We’ve suffered through the year’s first heat waves and survived more than our fair share of rain, rain and more rain. With temperatures in the eighties and nineties, sticky humidity and dramatic thundershowers, it is well and truly summer.

After a cold winter and a hectic spring, summer is a wonderful time to kick-back and relax. Dig out those flip flops or splurge on a fancy new pair, get some sunscreen and head to the beach. Perhaps you’ll test yourself. Are you still fit enough to swim to the Island or at least the raft? For a more leisurely lake tour, break out your kayak and drift by the loons. On those hot and hazy days, it’s best to fill a tote bag with books and enjoy a lazy afternoon snoozing and reading in the shade. Busy or relaxed, at the end of the day, it’s a time for stress free, no fuss picnic or cookout.

When I set up my first apartment it didn’t take long for me to assemble my list of culinary must-haves. A grill (along with a blender and fondue pot) was high on my list. My first grill was a hand-me-down hibachi. The good thing about a hibachi is it is indestructible. You can leave it out in the rain or kick it off a balcony or both. Heck, you can probably run it over with a steam roller. On the downside, the grill surface is so small it can barely handle a couple of burgers let alone a cookout for a crowd. For anyone who likes to entertain, it is no surprise that these tiny grills disappeared along with disco balls and fondue pots. But who knows, fondue keeps bouncing back, maybe the hibachi will make a comeback as well.

My second grill was a Weber knock-off. The grill was still pretty small and a bit rickety. However, the price was right so who was I to complain. I was living in Switzerland and that grill brought a little slice of Americana to Avenue de l’Ermitage. The knock-off played a starring role in many wonderful summer evenings. It was called into action for parties large and small; feeding as many as fifty people in a single night.

Tragedy struck when my father, visiting from the States, backed into the little grill with his rental car. We picked it up and wrestled it back into shape. Well, at least sort of. Good old Dad promised a replacement but got on a plane before making good on his pledge. Thrifty New Englander, I continued to use the injured grill for a couple more years. In spite of its wobbles, many splendid meals and evenings were enjoyed.

Eventually the rickety faux-Weber’s legs gave out. No amount of coaxing could convince it to straighten up and cook right. Sadly, the grill was retired to the curb on recycling day. A larger, shiny, new knock-off soon took its place. Not much sturdier than the first, I eventually switched to a gas grill. When I moved back to the States, the gas grill refused to emigrate. Luckily, some friends agreed to adopt it.

Once I made it back to Pleasant Lake, Dad ran out of excuses and had to make good on his promise. His housewarming gift was, you guessed it, a new grill. Although I’m busier than ever, I still try to find time for cookouts with family and friends.

I wish you a wonderful summer and lots of good grilling. Bon appétit!

Susan Nye writes, cooks and lives in New London. Visit her website at http://www.susannye.com to learn about her Eat Well – Do Good project. For cooking tips and more, you can check Susan out on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/swnye or watch her cook at http://www.youtube.com/susannye. © Susan W. Nye, 2013

Grilled Swordfish with Olive & Caper Salsa
swordfish_olive_caper_salsa_01Delicious addition to your summer grilling repertoire. Enjoy!
Serves 8

1/2 cup pitted and roughly chopped olives – black oil-cured or a mix of your favorites
2 cloves garlic, minced
1scallion, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons capers
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 1 lemon
Dash or to taste hot pepper sauce
Extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
3 pounds swordfish

Put the olives, garlic, scallion, capers, parsley, oregano, lemon zest, juice of 1/2 lemon, the pepper sauce and about 4 tablespoons of olive oil in a bowl, season with salt and pepper and toss to combine. Set aside.olive_caper_salsa_02

Preheat the grill to high heat.

Drizzle the swordfish with a little olive oil and the juice of 1/2 lemon and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill the fish for about 5 minutes per side or until cooked through. Remove from the grill and set on a large serving platter. Let the fish rest for about 5 minutes.

Cut the swordfish into thick slices and serve with olive and caper salsa.

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One Year Ago – Grilled Red Potatoes with Lemon-Garlic-Herb Oil
Two Years Ago – Tandoori Chicken
Three Years Ago – Blueberry Muffins
Four Years Ago – Peanut Butter Brownies
Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

How will you spend the Fourth of July? Filled with activities or lolling about? Maybe a bit of both! Feel free to share. Let’s get a conversation going.

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook as well as a day in the life photoblog! In addition, I hope that you will take a minute to learn about my philanthropic project Eat Well-Do Good. © Susan W. Nye, 2013

A Trip to the Farmers’ Market & Salade de Crevettes Nicoise (Shrimp Salad Niçoise)

Many years ago I moved to Lausanne, Switzerland to work on a one year research project at an international business school. Apartments were in short supply but I managed to find a tiny, overpriced studio at the top of the town, high above the Lake of Geneva. The studio was furnished with a Murphy bed, a shabby table and chair and the world’s most uncomfortable sofa. But a picture window on the back wall framed a magnificent view of Notre-Dame Cathedral and the Alps. The studio might have been pricey but the view was priceless.

My office was down by the lake. Early every morning I headed down the steep, cobblestone streets past the train station and on to the wide, tree lined avenues of Ouchy. (That’s pronounced ooh-she not ouch-ee.) Within a day or two, I discovered a small farmers’ market. Once a week a handful of farmers set up shop on a narrow street above the station. Makeshift tables were loaded high with beautiful, just-picked fruits and vegetables.

I was tempted but if I shopped in the market I would need to speak French. French was a dim high school memory, barely spoken in almost ten years. Was I up for the challenge?

I plunged in. Behind one table a nice farmer lady smiled and asked if she could help me. I smiled back, gathered up a tomato or two, a head of lettuce, a zucchini and looked around for beans. I searched the back of my brain for the French word for beans and hit on légume. In English a legume is a dried bean. It stood to reason that légume could be the French word for bean. I frantically composed my request, took a deep breath and asked in fractured French, “Do you have légumes?” The nice lady replied politely and in perfect French. Yes, of course she had légumes but what kind of légumes did I want? Again I wracked my brain and remembered vert was green. “Légumes verts,” I replied.

That’s when she took pity on me and switched to English. Légumes was the French word for vegetables. Since she had lots of green vegetables, could I be more specific? I blushed and tried again, this time in English. She was delighted to sell me haricots verts.

Throughout the year I visited her table many times to buy vegetables and practice speaking French. I frequently fumbled and she just as frequently bailed me out. I soon learned she was a California native. She’d fallen in love with a Swiss farmer and was living happily ever after in a small village outside of Lausanne. When she wasn’t giving mini French lessons to befuddled expatriates, she helped him grow and sell vegetables.

The one year project in Lausanne ended but somehow or other I forgot to come home. After staying in Switzerland for almost two decades, I finally found my way back to Pleasant Lake. I still love a trip to the Farmers’ Market. Even if I don’t need a translator, our local markets have a unique charm found only in New England towns.

Enjoy a trip to the farmers’ market and celebrate summer’s bounty around the table with family and friends,

Bon appétit!

Salade de Crevettes Nicoise (Shrimp Salad Niçoise)
This colorful salade composée (composed salad) will make a beautiful centerpiece on your summer table and tastes wonderful. Enjoy!
Serves 6
1 pound new potatoes, cut in bite size pieces
Vinaigrette Niçoise (recipe follows)
1 pound green beans, trimmed and cut in half
1 pound assorted cherry and grape tomatoes, cut in half
1/2 small red onion, chopped
1/2 yellow pepper, seeded and chopped

1/2 European cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
1 1/2 pounds cooked large shrimp*
1/2 cup dry-pack, oil-cured black olives, pitted and roughly chopped
1-2 tablespoons capers, drained
Fresh, chopped parsley

Put the potatoes in a large pot of cold, salted water, set over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the potatoes are tender. Drain the potatoes well and transfer to a bowl. Combine the potatoes with just enough vinaigrette to coat and toss to combine. Cool to room temperature and refrigerate.

Meanwhile, bring salted water to a rapid boil in a large skillet. Add the beans and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring a few times to cook the beans evenly. Drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking. Drain again and put the beans in a bowl with enough vinaigrette to lightly coat and toss. Store in the refrigerator.

Put the tomatoes, cucumber, onion and pepper in a bowl, sprinkle with salt and pepper and drizzle with enough vinaigrette to lightly coat and toss. Store in the refrigerator.

Remove the vegetables and shrimp from the refrigerator about 20-30 minutes before serving.

To serve: arrange the beans around the edges of a large deep platter or on individual plates. Spoon the potatoes into the center. Artfully sprinkle the tomatoes, cucumber, onion and pepper over the beans and potatoes. Top with shrimp, sprinkle with chopped olives, capers and parsley and serve.

* My Mediterranean Shrimp are perfect in this salad. Make ahead and store in the refrigerator. Alternatively, you can buy cooked shrimp and toss them in a little vinaigrette.

Vinaigrette Niçoise
4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
3-4 cloves garlic
1-inch chunk red onion
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
Dash hot sauce
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/2 cup or to taste extra-virgin olive oil

Put the vinegar, mustard, garlic, onion, thyme and hot sauce in a blender or small food processor, season with salt and pepper and pulse to combine and chop the garlic and onion. With the machine running, slowly add the olive oil and process until incorporated.

Store extra vinaigrette in the refrigerator.

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One Year Ago – Insalata Caprese
Two Year Ago – Mojito Melons
Three Years Ago – Grilled Antipasto
Four Years Ago – Nana Nye’s Fish Chowder
Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

Do you have a favorite Farmers’ Market? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going. 

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook as well as a day in the life photoblog! In addition, I hope that you will take a minute to learn about my philanthropic project Eat Well-Do Good.

© Susan W. Nye, 2012

Farmers’ Market Photograph by Natalie Maynor. All other photographs by Susan Nye.

 

Fun Chippies & Blackberry Chocolate Chip Frozen Yogurt

Every family has its own mini subculture. At least mine does or did. Throughout my childhood we shared a few habits and traditions that helped knit our family together. Traditions like:
• Presents on Christmas Day, not Eve. I think my sister, brother and I were a little envious of the kids who opened their presents on Christmas Eve.
• We always stayed on the beach until the very last possible moment on Labor Day, before heading back to the ‘burbs. We were never envious of the kids who left a few days early to shoe shop and buy notebooks.
• Chips with lobster – I was shocked the first time I had lobster at someone else’s house. They served potato salad and not chips. It seemed positively barbarian.
The list goes on and on. We still follow a lot of these little habits but not all.

There are jokes and stories that no gets but us. No matter how hilarious we find them and ourselves, no one else seems to. And finally, there is the language thing. Yes we speak English but we have a few special words to describe this or that. For example:
• We never had leftovers; we had Slusser’s Delight and breadandwithit. Although, there was never any bread.
• After a long, busy day, we were known to have a sinking spell. When that happened, we didn’t put on our jammies, we got into our nonni-nunus and relaxed in front of the television.
• And our favorite ice cream was filled with fun chippies<.em>.

We discovered fun chippies soon after we began spending our summers on Pleasant Lake. Mass market and chain restaurant ice creams paled in comparison to the homemade delights at the Grey House. There was no gum, no Arabic, no stabilizers or fillers. We’d grown up on Howard Johnson’s ice cream. Heck, my grandmother went to school with the original Howard. His chocolate chip and mint chocolate chip ice creams were filled with miniscule specks of chocolate. They had nowhere near the charm of the Grey House’s fun chippies.

At the time, they were a novelty, a far cry from Howard’s specks and the big, fat flakes of imitation chocolate in cheap, supermarket ice cream. For all our fascination, fun chippies were nothing more than the mini morsels that Nestlé now sells in supermarkets from coast to coast. And nothing less than real chocolate. The Grey House threw them into a bunch of different ice creams – vanilla, black raspberry, mint, coffee and chocolate. Not just yummy, we thought they were adorable.

We thought our nickname was terribly clever. I’m not sure who in the family coined it, probably my sister Brenda. To this day, we don’t understand why it never became a part of the local language along with frappes and jimmies. Alas, fun chippies never appeared on the Grey House menu. Or on any other menu for that matter.

My mother was always watching her waistline and had to be cajoled into taking us out for ice cream. However, Dad took personal pride in New England’s claim as the Ice Cream Eating Champions of the World. On hot summer nights he would shout out to anyone who would listen, “Who wants fun chippies?” Feet pounded and doors slammed and in a matter of seconds kids and dogs were packed into the back seat of the station wagon and ready to go. Fun chippies were the perfect way to end an already perfect day in paradise.

The Grey House and its ice cream window closed years ago, but you can still find old-fashion, homemade ice cream stands scattered across New England. Why not visit one real soon!?!

Bon appétit!

Blackberry Yogurt Ice Cream with Fun Chippies
Want to get the good old fashion taste of a New England ice cream stand, try making your own. Enjoy!
Makes about 1 quart

1 quart nonfat plain yogurt
1 pound fresh blackberries
1 cup half & half
1/2 – 3/4 cup (to taste) brown sugar or honey
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1-2 tablespoons Framboise* (optional)
1/2 cup (or to taste) mini chocolate chips

Put the yogurt in a colander or sieve lined with a clean dishtowel or coffee filter and drain for several hours or overnight. You should end up with about 2 cups of yogurt cheese.

Put the blackberries in a blender with about 1/2 cup half & half and process until smooth. Pour the mixture through a fine mesh sieve to remove the seeds.

Put the yogurt, brown sugar, salt, vanilla, Framboise and remaining half & half in a in a bowl and whisk to combine. Slowly add the blackberry-cream and whisk until smooth. Chill for at least an hour. The mix should be very cold.

Transfer the mix to an ice cream machine and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions. In the final few minutes, slowly pour in the chocolate chips and continue to process until the chocolate chips are well integrated into the ice cream. Transfer the ice cream to a plastic container and freeze for up to one month.

If the ice cream comes out of the freezer rock hard, put it in the refrigerator for 30-45 minutes. It will soften a little and be easier to scoop.

* Framboise is a French raspberry liqueur.

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One Year Ago – Brown Sugar Yogurt Gelato
Two Years Ago – Red Pepper Dip
Three Years Ago – Grilled Chicken, Shallots & New Potatoes
Four Years Ago – Barbecue Chicken
Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

How do you keep cool when temperatures soar? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going.

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook as well as a day in the life photoblog! In addition, I hope that you will take a minute to learn about my philanthropic project Eat Well-Do Good. © Susan W. Nye, 2012

How to Celebrate the Fourth of July & Watermelon & Feta Salad

It ought to be celebrated by pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other.

… John Adams, 2nd President of the United States

Hip hip hooray! It’s Independence Day! How will you spend it? Stretched out on the beach? Waving a flag along a parade route? Or wandering through an historic site? A few ambitious souls will probably read or reread the Declaration of Independence.

If you still haven’t figured out what to do with yourself, well here are a few ideas:

1. While my favorite beach is just around the corner on Pleasant Lake, you could take a trip to the ocean. Take a long walk in the sand, feel the wind in your hair and body surf the waves. Before you head home, stop for a lobster roll or some fried clams.

2. If you don’t want to lie around a beach all day, how about a small town Fourth? Any small town will probably do but Andover, New Hampshire really knows how to throw a party. The flea market is famous and there is a festive parade (beware of politicians – it’s an election year). Don’t forget the chicken barbeque and fireworks explode after dark.

3. Or you could head into Boston and walk the Freedom Trail, maybe share a little history with a child or grandchild. Chances are good, it’s been years since you visited the Old State House, Faneuil Hall or the Bunker Hill monument.

4. If you are down in Boston, stay over for the Boston Pops Concert and Fireworks on the Esplanade. If you have never been, it is a lot of fun and the fireworks are spectacular.

5. Maybe it’s been awhile since you gathered family and friends together. If that is the case, stay close to home and host a cookout. Make an afternoon and/or evening of it. Depending on the size of your yard, organize a game of soccer or softball, croquet or volleyball … any or all! Keep it simple and traditional with hotdogs and hamburgers and lots of fresh salads. You can bake a happy birthday America cake or take it easy and serve thick slices of watermelon for dessert.

6. If you are hosting a cookout, I suppose you might consider a hotdog eating contest. Nathan’s infamous contest began in 1916 at Coney Island in Brooklyn. The first contest may or may not have been devised to settle the score between a small group of immigrants. When each claimed to be the most patriotic, overindulgence of the all-American hotdog was deemed a reliable proof. Or so the legend goes.

7. Take a long bike ride and see how everyone else in the neighborhood and beyond is celebrating. Red, white and blue handlebar streamers are encouraged but not required.

8. Take in a game of America’s favorite pastime. The Red Sox are on the west coast but the Fisher Cats are playing in Manchester.

9. Be happy you have the day off! Stay put, spend time with people you love and do close to absolutely nothing!

Have a wonderful holiday and bon appétit!

Watermelon & Feta Salad
The perfect salad for a red hot 4th of July! Enjoy!
Serves 8-10

1 small red onion, thinly sliced
Balsamic vinegar
Extra virgin olive oil
About 8 ounces baby arugula
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
About 8 cups 3/4-inch cubes seedless watermelon, cold
About 8 ounces feta cheese, cut in 3/4 inch-cubes
4 tablespoons chopped fresh mint

Soak the red onion in ice water for at least 30 minutes.

Put the arugula in a large bowl, using a ratio of 1:2 or 1:3, drizzle the arugula with enough vinegar and oil to lightly coat, season with salt and pepper and toss to combine. Transfer the arugula to a large platter.

Drain the onion and pat dry. Scatter the watermelon, onion and feta over the arugula, drizzle with balsamic glaze and sprinkle with mint and freshly ground pepper.

Balsamic Glaze
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon minced garlic
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Bring the vinegar to a boil in small, heavy saucepan over medium heat and simmer until it is thick and reduced by half.

Transfer the vinegar to a bowl and cool to room temperature. Add the mustard and garlic and whisk to combine. Add the oil and whisk until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste and whisk to combine.

Cover and store any extra glaze in the refrigerator.

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One Year Ago – Grilled Salmon with Lemon-Basil Aioli
Two Years Ago – Mediterranean Shrimp
Three Years Ago – Grilled Hoisin Pork

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Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook as well as a day in the life photoblog! In addition, I hope that you will take a minute to learn about my philanthropic project Eat Well-Do Good. © Susan W. Nye, 2012